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Could "Ungrowth" Be Healthy for WNY? | Commentary

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Could "Ungrowth" Be Healthy for WNY?
Could "Ungrowth" Be Healthy for WNY?

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The U.S. Census Bureau recently released results of the 2010 census for New York, and the numbers show that population in all eight Western New York counties continues to decline. The City of Buffalo lost 10.7% of its population since the 2000 census, down to 261,310. Erie County‚Äôs population (919,040) is down 3.3%.

Local media unanimously reported this decline in population as a negative. (See the complete WGRZ report here.) Erie County Executive Chris Collins has said before: "We must grow or die."

But is the news all that bad? "Ungrowth" -- the idea that areas can shrink to survive -- is gaining ground in urban planning circles, at least, and it was the subject of a New York Times "Room for Debate" feature when the latest numbers came out. Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution is quoted as saying:

What we need is a new mindset. Physical growth has been a powerful American narrative, embodied in huge public expenditures from the Louisiana Purchase to the Interstate Highway System and the mortgage interest deduction. The nation now needs a parallel commitment to physical ungrowth. Ungrowth is not surrender but a phase of urban evolution.

What do you think? Can Buffalo and the Western New York community "shrink" its way to health? Is there something to be said for avoiding fallout from the world's population explosion?

Add your opinion here to the Comments section below.



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